Mexico's Richest Man Developing Electric Taxis to Help Fight Air Pollution 

Carlos Slim and breadmaker Bimbo are joining forces on a new electric ride. 

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

An automotive startup belonging to Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim is working to develop a new electric taxi in order to hekp battle the lung-clogging pollution that plagues Mexico City, according to an executive at the company. 

Giant Motors Latinoamerica chief executive Elias Massri told Reuters that the company was hoping to have a prototype ready in 2017. 

"We're developing the prototypes and hope to finish them this year to find a viable solution, an electric vehicle, that genuinely replaces gasoline-using cars," he said. 

In order to successfully replace a sizeable portion of Mexico City's 130,000 cabs, the electric cars will need to be able to recharge quickly, Massri said.

"The peculiar challenge with taxis in Mexico City is that they often ride around with no passenger, looking for a fare," he told Reuters. (We're sure Uber, Lyft, or Gett will be offering their services soon to help prevent that problem.)

Slim, whose middle name is tragically not "Danger," is currently ranked sixth on Forbes's list of global billionaires, with a reported net worth of $54.5 billion. Giant Motors is controlled by Grupo Financiero Inbursa, Slim's financial services group. 

Oddly enough, the electric taxi is being developed as part of a joint partnership between Giant Motors and Mexican breadmaker Bimbo. In recent years, the two have built a small fleet of electric cargo trucks capable of handling up to a ton of payload. That truck's platform, according to Reuters, will be the basis for the electric taxi project. 

Air pollution is a massive problem in Mexico City, and has grown worse in recent years. As of 2016, the levels of particulate matter and ozone in the environment had reportedly reached unhealthy levels, forcing the government to take the drastic step of ordering large percentages of automobiles off the roads on particularly polluted days.